REPUBLIC, MO - Governor Mike Parson gave approval to two bills that could enhance 911 and emergency services across the state. On Friday, Republic Fire Chief Duane Compton and dozens of community leaders joined the governor, who signed the legislation during a ceremony at the Greene County Public Safety Center in Springfield.
The new laws include Senate Bill 870, which makes a variety of changes to emergency services, including programs to improve training and treatment procedures for personnel; implement practices to standardize and enhance medical records and patent's rights; and improve communication and collaboration between local departments. Furthermore, the bill establishes the position of State Medical EMS Director. It also adds Missouri into the “Recognition of EMS Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact," which allows emergency personnel to practice outside of their home state.
The second law receiving Parson's signature will expand the ways counties can fund their 911 systems. Under House Bill 1456, counties now have the choice to collect taxes on any communications device that can contact 911, including wireless phones. Missouri was the last state in the nation that didn't allow 911 taxes on wireless devices and continued to limit them to landline phones. This resulted in a major funding shortfall for local systems as the population migrated from traditional wired systems to cell phones. For instance, in Greene County, the vast majority of emergency calls are now placed from wireless devices. However, taxes could not be collected on those same phones to fund, maintain, and upgrade the Springfield-Greene County 911 Emergency Communications Department. Now, House Bill 1456 will allow counties to collect those taxes on both wireless and wired devices. While the ability to do so is now in place, Greene County leaders say there are no current plans in the works to implement such changes.